Mystery building

Mystery building
This building can be found in the middle of West Middlesex golf course in Dormers Wells, Southall. I think it looks like a old water company building but I can’t find a reference to it. Edited to add: I did find a reference on a map from the 30s to confirm that this was a valve house so it is related to waterworks. The golf course is in the Brent river valley.

Waltzes from Vienna (1934)

Phew, what a relief it is to get past these early sound films which have, in the main, been very poor. There have been plenty of enjoyable scenes, fancy special effects and camerawork, and some nice performances but none of the films have been good as a whole. Even the famous one (Blackmail) is better as a piece in its silent form than in its sound version (“knife!” not withstanding).

This was no The Smiling Lieutenant that’s for sure. I can’t be bothered saying much more than that. The director clearly had no interest in what he was doing and I’ll draw the line there.

While I was looking for a suitable image, I realised that this film did have a redeeming feature and that was Frank Vosper. This screengrab doesn’t capture the joyful way he owned his entrance combined with a beautiful bit of hat throwing.

Good catch, Esmond!


Thanks (as usual) to the 1000 Frames of Hitchcock project for reminding me of Vosper’s performance.

Alma fact: co-scenario by
Appearance by a cat or dog: none
Transport: a carriage
Source: Le Chant du Danube (Universal France DVD)

Number Seventeen (1932)

This has a good opening silent sequence and, let’s face it, a lot of early sound films are only any good in the silent sequences because plummy accents coupled with stilted awkward acting have not worn well. So a man arriving at a mystery house on a windy night and finding an apparently dead man sets up the film rather nicely but once Leon M. Lion turns up (the actual leading man – baffling) it becomes less entertaining and more confusing. Hitchcock went to town with the lighting and the camera angles, and why not? I don’t believe he didn’t think it a ropey script.

But, what does redeem it and what I remembered about it after a gap of maybe three decades since I first saw it, were the models – which are wonderful. The mix of models and live action in the train and car sequence is just brilliant. And very exciting.

Alma fact: co-scenario by
Appearance by a cat or dog: I can’t remember
Transport: a train, a bus, a ferry
Source: The Early Hitchcock Collection (Optimum Releasing)

Belisha beacons

Belisha beacons

We were following a walk along the course of the New River in Highbury/Stoke Newington which was pretty dull along the culverted stretch along Petherton Road but this lovely representation of a zebra crossing with vigorously flashing Belisha beacons painted on the pavement of Church Path (overlooked by a black cat lounging on a window sill) was a nice surprise.